Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The bus ride was over, I was in Tulsa, OK.  I hurried off the bus, heading for a pay phone and called my "counselor's" office.  It was a Monday morning - one I will never forget - May 13, 1975.  The secretary answered and when I told her that I had an appointment with the President, she had to tell me, "There has been some mistake.  This is commencement day and the President is scheduled to speak and afterwards, he and his wife will be leaving on a three week vacation."  Ooops!  There had been some kind of "mistake" and I was left with the facts.  What was I going to do?  The first thing I did was realize I only had $10 in my pocket and I knew no one there.

But I recalled seeing a "Labor" office just before we pulled up to the bus station, so I headed in that direction, hoping to get a job.  On the way I noticed an old hotel offering rooms for $10 a night.  At least I would have some place to sleep - for a night.  Registering in the Labor office, I took a seat and waited.  It was 10AM and there were only three others in the waiting room so I figured my chances were good.  Noon came and went, 1 o'clock and then, 2.  The other guys were still there, but then the phone rang,  "Any of you guys good at counting?" "Yes, sir," I replied as I headed for the door.  The employer was just down the street and so I was there within 10 minutes of the call.  "My name's Steve," the man said as he greeted me, "We have an emergency and need to have an inventory taken by Friday.  I trust you are good at this and - accurate."  "Yes, sir, call me 'Mac" and let's get started."  We worked until 9PM and Steve had bought me some sandwiches from a Deli.  Knowing that I could not get back to the Labor office to get paid, Steve asked, "Can you come back tomorrow, for the rest of the week?"  "Yes, sir" and then Steve took a $20 bill from his pocket and told me I could repay him later.

I came back at 7AM the next day and wound up working 10 hours a day for the rest of the week.  When Steve signed my ticket on Friday afternoon, he handed me an envelope and told me to forget the $20 he had advanced me on Monday.  "If you need a reference, don't hesitate using my name" and handed me his business card.  On my way back to the Labor office I opened the envelope and there was a check for $100.  Oh my...

That enabled me to move out of the "flop house" styled hotel and move into the YMCA, so I was set for another week at least.  Sunday, I discovered the First Methodist Church nearby and it was better that I might have imagined.  That evening, they introduced a choir of older citizens and one of their songs was a familiar one.  "It gets sweeter and sweeter as the days go by, Oh what a love between my Lord and I."  I walked up to one of the fellows and asked, "Do you you really believe what you were singing?" and he grinned and replied, "Yes sir, it's even better than that."  I was about to learn how true that would be for me as well.

The following Sunday I attended the Senior's Sunday School class and was surprised to find the wife of the man I came to see and asked her for a few moments to discuss my situation. She was not pleased to hear that someone had set up an appointment without discussing it with her husband.  She would check it out and let me know.  When I came in from working there was a note asking me to call a private number at my earliest convenience.  I talked with the man I had come to see a couple of days later and explained my situation, including my encounter on the bus.  I also mentioned that in visiting the campus I discovered a pin I wanted to wear and it came with a card reading, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witness..." (Acts 1:8) and I asked him if he did not think that meant I was to be His witness wherever it was that I found myself?  "Son, you said you came here to see me, but it is apparent you have already met the real person you came to see."  Before we hung up, he offered to meet with me any time I thought I needed his counsel.  We would meet a number of times before I left Tulsa, but it was always to greet one another as brothers in the faith.

Life was changing for me and it was hard to grasp all that was happening.  I joined the church, met with the Pastor a few times as he and I had had similar experiences.  He was about my age when - as an established lawyer, he felt called by God to leave that profession and enter the ministry.  One day, I asked him if he thought the same might be happening to me and he replied by providing me with the names of ten other Pastors, to question them if they thought there was a "calling" on my life.  After talking with six, I knew that I knew, the ministry of becoming a Pastor was not for me.

One day, I had a strange phone call from California from a lady who identified herself as "Mrs. Mac" and told me that was not her real name.  She wanted to tell me about the life my wife was living and it didn't sound good.  As a matter of fact, long before I had to think of returning to California - within the 90 days I was told my wife would be incarcerated waiting for the Judge to determine her sentence, I learned that she was out of prison and had taken the children from the homes where I left them.  This was - in fact, a violation of the agreements I had established with the State regarding their care, but now there was nothing I could do.  She demanded child support and I made arrangements  to pay the amount stipulated by the courts.

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